Solar Energy for the Home: How it Works

Posted by: Cam Fraser

Collector panels placed on the roof of a house, or in a free-standing array,  absorb the light (not the heat), of the sun.   The light makes the molecules in these panels vibrate, which creates energy.  The energy is then transferred through wiring (enclosed in a pipe) that runs from the panels to a box mounted on the side of the house, generally right near your power meter.

Once connected, your refrigerator can’t tell whether the power’s coming from the roof or a coal plant in another state.   The solar energy then runs into your household electric system in the same way as the power from your utility company- there’s no interior wiring needed.

If you generate more power than you need, the utility absorbs the excess.   When you need power, the grid serves as a backup.   Eventually, your excess power may be able to be SOLD back to the power company (something called a feed-in tariff), for the utility to resell, and as a money maker for you effectively being a distributed power generator.

The Economics of Solar:

Solar power equipment and installation cost are driven by size and complexity of the project and can range from $15,000 to upwards of $100,000.  Most people finance this project as part of a renewable energy production loan (in more than 20 states), or through home equity.  This effectively locks in the monthly payment- you will now know what you’re monthly utility cost will be.  In a highly inflationary market, where power costs are rising 8-10% per year, being able to predict your energy costs, and effectively gave free power after the installation is complete, is a great benefit.

There should be no net difference in monthly cost to the homeowner from a solar project. Once the install is complete, the homeowner generally pays nothing or very little to the power company, and this money offsets the payment for the equipment.

Solar Energy Installers serving Sonoma County
www.Akeena Solar